Mark Gross comments

Posted in: Are Japan’s efforts at internationalization succeeding or not? See in context

Efforts to increase English language ability as a international communication tool would definitely make Japan and Japanese more competitive on the global stage, in the sense that it could mean greater sales in the English speaking world and possibly in areas where English is the foreign/alternate language of choice. It would also make the skill sets of Japanese professionals potentially more cross-border portable, meaning that Japanese people would have greater opportunity to work abroad if the pay and benefits are right. However, will this lead to "internationalization" and inter-cultural understanding in Japan? Not so sure about that. YouTubers like Randomyoko use their strong English language skills to provide the world with their nationalistic diatribe with the intention of reaching a non-Japanese speaking audience, and I don't see what she does as improving Japan's relations with its neighbors. Her English-language "Annexation Song" is straight out of right-wing Japanese mass-consumption history books.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: George Clooney appears in new ad for Kirin beer See in context

Western celebrities mainly make these things about the same time one of their movies comes out in Japan. Plus they get paid really well for not a whole lot of work. In the USA, they'd go on late night talk shows to plug their movies, but because of the language barrier, this isn't always the most opportune thing to do in Japan. In other words, these commercials are also usually plugs for a movie on the sly, and it helps introduce the actors to a new generation of Japanese viewers. "Who's in that new movie? Oh, the guy from the Kirin commercial with the bird and the paint? OK." In the USA, Cinematic A-listers usually only show up in commercials for luxury items, if they show up at all - famous actors who do commercials are usually not "working", as in starring in a major motion picture, ala Lawrence Fishburne currently doing car commercials. Not that this logic does not apply to sports or music celebrities, whom historically and currently often do commercials in the States.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Cola-flavored soy milk See in context

I want. Now.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Wave of Iraq violence kills over 200 See in context

First off, don't blame Obama for abandoning Iraq; the decision to pull out troops and replace them with contracted security trainers (under the auspices of the Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq) was by mutual decision between Iraq and the US; the GoI didn't want an immunity clause for troops (while conducting official duties) in the SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement), and the USG doesn't commit troops to any foreign locale without one.

Secondly, what's going on in Iraq (and Syria - and Bahrain; soon to extended to Lebanon) is absolutely sectarian in nature and is primarily a war by proxies between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

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Posted in: Police see rise in membership of extremist groups See in context

<>The bulk of Zaitokukai hatred seems to be aimed not as much toward the miniscule immigrant population of Japan as it is against the Japan-born permanent residents and citizens of the country with non-Japanese ethnicity.<>

Not true. Zaitokukai has also targeted recent newcomers, with the chants of "White Pig, Go Home" outside the Washington Hotel in Shinjuku, the anti-Halloween protests at Shinjuku Station "Go to hell foreigners and Protestants - You betray God!", as well as the protests against the little girl trying to stay in Japan while her parents were getting deported. Not to mention their protests against the Japan-distributor of the Cove. The organization's roots and in the anti-Zainichi (Resident Korean) sentiment, but the organization has evolved into targeting foreigners in Japan of all stripes as well as Japanese who expose uncomfortable truths.

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